Being a pastor is hard. You probably have never stopped to think about that, and if you’re a church person, you probably never stopped to consider those things you say or do that makes the job of the pastor much more burdensome. So let me talk to you a little parson to person.
A common misconception that many have today and often utilize to discount advice or guidance they receive from their pastor is that we pastors “don’t live in the real world.” You’ve said, that haven’t you?
Most have this idea that we pastors somehow live in Ivory Towers and make pronouncements based on a fictional ideal rather than the painfully real. The reality is your pastor sees more suffering, pain and death in a month than most will experience in a life-time. We sit beside numerous bedsides of seriously and terminally ill patients week after week, month after month, year after year.
We attend more funerals and talk with more grief-stricken people than does any other profession. We hear more stories of violence and brokenness than most will ever realize.
So the next time you are tempted to think your pastor doesn’t understand what life is like in the real world, think again. It is not uncommon for those of us in ministry to have multiple people in crisis at the same time. Here’s a newsflash for some of you: despite what you seem to think, your pastor has not learned yet how to be in more than one place at one time.
So before you criticize him for not being at your 90-year-old dying aunt Sally’s bedside 24/7, stop and consider that maybe he was ministering to a family who had just lost a child. Cut him some slack; despite what you think, he really is only human.
A church was looking for the perfect pastor, here was the list of their qualifications: 1. Our pastor must please everyone in the congregation at all times. 2. He must preach deep theological truths with practical application in a 20-minute time slot. 3. He must have the ability to convict people without offending them. 4. Must be willing to work 6 a.m. to midnight fulfilling all his duties of ministry as well as mow the church lawn and take care of its janitorial needs. 5. He must have a perfect family.
It continued: 6. The perfect pastor will be between 30-35 years of age and have 45 years of ministry experience. 7. Should be tall on the short side and thin on the heavyset side. 8. His hair, parted in the middle, must be wavy on one side and straight on the other. 9. Speaking of hair, while he must appear youthful, there should be a touch of grey at the temples giving a sense of aged-wisdom. 10. Eyes, one brown and one blue.
And in addition: 11. Must work well with children, have a burning desire for youth ministry but spend all of his time with senior citizens. 12. Invests 25 hours a week in sermon preparation, 20 hours a week in pastoral counseling, 10 hours in meetings, 20 hours in visitation and evangelism, 10 hours a week set aside for emergencies, six hours for crisis intervention, 30 hours in prayer, six hours in correspondence, 10 hours in telephone contact with his congregation, oh, and is always available when someone needs him.
Finally: 13. Candidate for the perfect pastor must have an advanced degree, be willing to work for peanuts (ministry should be its own reward), and understand that everyone in the congregation will know how to do his job better, so he needs to listen to them. 14. The perfect pastor will have a wife who plays the piano, and volunteers for every women’s committee in the church.
The above is my attempt to lighten this column a little but unfortunately there is a great deal of truth in the humor.
Contrast this with the reminder from the book of Hebrews, “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” (Hebrews 13:17, NLT).
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit the Gateway Web site at www.gatewaycommunity.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.